The Curious Case Of The Disappearing Book Shops


Are there any book shops near you? If so, are they independently owned or part of a franchise? If you live in one of the larger cities, chances are there are still at least a few of both. If not, and you live in one of the smaller towns or rural communities, especially in the U.S. such as I do, you may not be so fortunate.

I have fond memories of exploring, and even bonding in book stores with my kids when they were younger, even though neither one of them were ever what you would call avid readers, once inside it wasn’t difficult to get them excited about books. And for a little while after they would be, of course their enthusiasm was fleeting and would soon fade, usually sometime before their day’s big purchases were even fully read.

Sadly, there are very few book stores nearby anymore. In fact, in my hometown, there are now none at all. Only 3 exist within a half hours drive, two of them franchise stores. I miss the days of rummaging old book stores. I especially miss the smells.

This is not to say I don’t enjoy the convenience of online buying too. A few clicks and you can find anything you want. That’s pretty nice, but it doesn’t replace the thrill of the hunt. I could spend hours roaming narrow aisles and combing through dusty stacks. It was a complete loss of time, and every other stressful thing in life just melted away. Maybe you’ve experienced this too.

I think I read somewhere that book purchases in the U.S. are around 50 percent ereader now. It’s not difficult to understand why. It’s pretty nice to be able to carry a whole library around with you in a pocket or handbag. I use one sometimes too. They can be very handy for travel, and in many cases titles are cheaper to buy in digital format. These devices certainly have their place and they are not going anywhere.

That being said, I hope independent and used book stores somehow have a resurgence. I know this is a long shot, and probably not likely to happen. Maybe I’m being a bit nostalgic, or maybe what I’m really hoping for is that enough other people will eventually miss them at least half as much as I do.

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